Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Problem With Editors...

As I get closer to being a published author, I learn a little bit more about the business and slowly all the glamour of being a published author wears off.

Don't get me wrong - I'm going to be published and I couldn't be more pleased but I didn't know what to expect when I came across an editor I felt didn't quite know where I was coming from.

I wanted my Caribbean characters to speak with authentic dialect. I went to great pains to choose dialogue that was authentic but could be understood by anyone reading the book. My editor, however, insisted that at certain points my characters speech read like mistakes on the page. I was dumbfounded. I really couldn't see it and in the end I made a couple of adjustments that watered my dialogue down. My editor insisted that I was being unreasonable and that my book was for the readers and not for me.

I would so love to open this out to other writers to see how they coped when they didn't agree with their editor. I don't have an agent so I felt well and truly up against it and a bit like a naughty child stamping her foot. That's how he made me feel. I still don't think I was wrong to insist on sticking to my guns. Especially since reading acclaimed novels like The White Woman on a Green
Bicycle by Monique Roffey, The Lond Song by Andrea Levy and even the Colour Purple stayed true to how people really speak. No-one complained. I know I'm not a 'big' writer like the above and maybe haven't earned the right to complain but one of the compelling parts of their work was the authenticity in dialogue.

In literature, aren't we writers always told to keep it realistic?

So if you read my novel Holding Paradise (when it finally comes out - details to follow) I would love to hear your views. And, indeed, has this been a problem for any of you?

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  1. Hi Fran, first of all congrats on almost being published!

    I'm mainly a fantasy & sci fi writer and often don't use Caribbean dialect in my work, as it isn't usually set there. However, when I decided I was writing a story that was, I immediately jumped at the chance to show off Bajan dialect and slang :). I figure, we read international slang all the time and have to adapt to it, so why can't we have even glimpses of ours in at least some of our books?

    I am currently self published (one book), but am all up for traditional publishing as well. However, I do understand what you mean about working with those who don't exactly understand our dialect. Luckily though, the editor I use now is more focused on chewing me out for carelessness and unimpressive flow, than much else lol.

    All the best with your book!

  2. Thanks for dropping by Jackie. Let's hope you're having a good relationship with your editor. I'm considering the self-publishing route with my next publication which will be a book of short stories. Some are set in the Caribbean - maybe you should give the name of your editor!

  3. Like most readers, I wouldn't know whether the Caribbean dialect in your books is authentic or not, but I appreciate it is of the utmost importance to you. The author/editor relationship is very close, and crucial to the creative process. If you're not happy, can't your publisher provide you with an alternative? Good luck with everything!

  4. Thank you Julia. I'm learning a lot as I go and really wish I had an agent at this point. But that's another blog post!